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1245 Heights Boulevard, 77008 | 713-862-8883

Grace United Methodist Church

COVID-19 Updates and Responses

 

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UPDATE FROM AUGUST 19, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
On Sunday, we’re going to continue our sermon series on Waiting.  We’ve heard from two Biblical characters, and Sunday we’ll hear from one more!  The prophet Elijah did some waiting and at the conclusion of it, he very clearly hears a word from God, but it was not in the way that Elijah expected.  Is God speaking to you in this period of waiting?  We’ll explore and see!
 
Don’t forget about our school supply drive for Grace Weekday School.  It is important for us to support this outreach ministry of our church, so I hope you’ll consider donating generously to the students of Grace Weekday School.  Click here to sign up today!
 
See you this Sunday in the WAITING place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM AUGUST 12, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Over the next few weeks, I want to invite you to help support one of our biggest ministries!  Grace Weekday School is in need of a few school supplies in order to get the new school year off to a great start.  Beginning August 17th, I want to invite you to shop for and deliver some of the supplies that the school is in need of.  Click here to sign up today! 
 
It is important that if you drop these school supplies off in person you:
  1. Must be wearing a mask
  2. And all supplies must be delivered to the church office Monday through Thursday between the hours of 9 am & 5 PM.  At this point, due to health concerns, you cannot enter the school.
 
This week in worship, we will continue our series on WAITING.  Last week, we talked about a man who was healed about being sick for 38 years!  This week, we’ll talk about a man who waited for only three days.  I’m talking about the prophet Jonah when he was swallowed by a big fish.  Jonah’s story is a fascinating one and, frankly, an action packed one.  The entire prophecy of Jonah unfolds in only four quick chapters, and I would invite you to read through it before church on Sunday.
 
What lessons did Jonah learn while he waited?  What were the result of these lessons?  Can they be applied to our world and situations?  Tune in at 10:45 AM this Sunday to find out!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM AUGUST 5, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 

This week in worship, we will begin a new sermon series called, “Waiting.”  The genesis of this sermon series comes straight from my own life.  I feel like I’m just sitting around waiting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very busy with work and kids, but always in the back of my head are a number of different questions.  “Is it safe for my kids to go to school yet or should I WAIT?  Should I send Brooks back to Grace Weekday School yet or should I WAIT?  Should I start in-person worship yet or should I WAIT?  Should I start going back into the office, or should I WAIT?”  Are any of you in the same place?  Maybe your gym or office or the place where you volunteer has temporarily shuttered its doors, and you’re just waiting.  While many of us are indeed still being productive members of society, I just feel like there is a whole lot of waiting going on.

 

If we turn to scriptures, we find a number of different characters who also waited.  Some of them spent years and years waiting, each for something different.  Some prophets and/or Kings waited for a word from God.  Other characters waited for healing, while the entire Jewish faith was waiting for the Messiah.  Can we learn from their examples?  Is there something in their world that relates to ours and can we apply that to our lives?  I am really looking forward to this sermon series, and I hope you are, too.

 

Further, I need your help!  Please send me examples of what you’re waiting on.  Your examples will help me illustrate where we are as a congregation and where we are as a people.

 

Finally, an update:  I’ve met with our re-opening committee several times, and we’ve arrived at the conclusion that we still are not entertaining a return to worship date just yet.  We are in the midst of identifying a set of circumstances that we think must exist before we return to worship, and what worship will look like when we are able to finally gather again.  Our primary focus is on protecting the ones we love both at church and at home and we feel that, as of right now, it is just too risky.  We would never forgive ourselves if we came back too early, and one of our more vulnerable members was infected.  Of course, there is never a ZERO risk situation as in any social gathering you are at risk of getting the flu, a cold virus, or any other bug, but we feel the risk factor is still just too high.  Of course, this will cause some of you to nod your heads in total agreement while others of you will shake your heads in dismay.  But know that we are trying to the best we can for all involved.

 

I can wait to see you this Sunday in the WAITING PLACE!!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Collin

 

 

 

UPDATE FROM JULY 29, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week in worship, we’ll wrap up our Heroes sermon series by looking at the great hero of all – Jesus Christ!  Now, there is a ton of scripture to choose from, but remember we’re focusing on the same scriptures that our VBS kiddos are going to learning about.  One of the scriptures that they will learn about it is in Matthew 5:1-12.  This is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount where we find some of the most important and well known teachings of Jesus.  In these first few verses of this, Jesus’s longest sermon, we find Jesus describing attributes of happy people.  He says, “Happy people are rich, have no debt, have a good job, have the biggest houses, and drive the most expensive cars.”  Right?  Of course not!  What he says may surprise and amaze!  He says things like, “Happy are those who grieve…happy are the humble…happy are those who are harassed.”  Can we get on board with those descriptions of happiness?  Does that sound like happiness to you?  Maybe it does.  And then again, maybe it doesn’t.  What is happiness for you?  What makes you happy, and how in the world is this considered heroic? I hope you’ll tune into worship this Sunday and find out.  Remember, if you can’t make worship online at 10:45 AM on Sundays, you can visit http://www.graceintheheights.org/live-stream and view both our worship services, and our weekly devotionals.
 
I also want to remind you about Drive Through Communion this Sunday from 2 PM – 4 PM.  Along with a mask, bring your bread and juice with you and I’ll ask God’s blessings on us and the elements that you’ve brought with you.  It’ll be a way we can connect safely, and give you an opportunity to visit the church. 
 
I hope to see you IN PERSON at communion this Sunday!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM JULY 22, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
It looks like we might be due for some rain over the next week or so.  With so many potential storms forming in the Gulf, let’s pray that we don’t experience any flooding!
 
We have lots of great ministry opportunities coming up that I want to make you aware of.  Don’t forget our VIRTUAL Vacation Bible School begins on August 2.  Since it is virtual this year, that means that literally anyone with Internet access can participate.  So be sure to register your family members who might not ordinarily be able to join us!  Speaking of August 2, that is also the day that we will have Drive Through Communion from 2 PM – 4 PM.  I and other staff members will be there to wave and say hello.  To participate, come to the church wearing a mask with your communion elements in your car with you.  Drive under the porte cochere located on the east side of the sanctuary and I’ll meet you with a short communion prayer.  Then you can consume the elements there, on the way home, or even wait till you get home. 
 
Looking ahead a little bit, HISD begins virtual instruction on Tuesday, September 8th.  We will have a Blessing of the Devices on Sunday, September 6th.  Since school will be a bit different this year, we will adapt!  We will also be collecting various items for Burrus Elementary.  We’re in conversation with them to help us understand their biggest needs and where we can be of service.
 
Finally, this week in worship, we will continue our VBS sermon series on Heroes.  In so doing, we’ll return to 1 Samuel to learn about the little discussed story of Abigail and how she saved King David.  In our day and time, what are actions that model the way Abigail acted?  What heroic actions should we take during COVID to exemplify our faith?  Tune in this Sunday to find out!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM JULY 15, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
I want to take a minute or two and announce a few things coming up in the life of our great church.
 
  1. On Sunday, August 2nd from 2 pm – 4 pm, we’re going to host CONTACTLESS drive through Communion.  I want to invite you to bring your own communion elements with you (bread and juice), and drive through the sanctuary parking lot.  I and other staff will be there to wave and say hello from a safe distance, and I will share a very brief Communion liturgy with each car and then you can celebrate Communion in your car.  I am very excited to see each of you, even if from a distance!  We will have some elements present if you forget yours, but I want to encourage you to bring your own bread and juice so we reduce any chance of spreading the virus.  As a bonus, those of you who have signed up for VBS (more information about VBS below) will be able to pick up your VBS packet from our Director of Family Ministries, Mary Gossett.  See you then!
  2. Beginning on August 9th, we’ll start a new sermon series called, “Waiting.”  I think that it is fair to say that no matter your feelings on the current quarantine,  we are all waiting.  We’re waiting to some extent for things to return to normal!  But how long will it take?  Will Texas be shut down again?  How will those with kids in school continue to manage full-time jobs and kids that won’t be in schools until early October?  During this sermon series, we’ll examine Biblical characters who also experienced an extended period of waiting and see what we can learn from their experiences.  I hope you’ll be able to join us!
  3. Don’t forget to register for our very first VIRTUAL Vacation Bible School.  This year, VBS will be entirely online so that means that we can greatly extend our reach!  Do you have friends with children in another town?  Send them the link!  Does your grandchild live out of state?  Invite them!  The dates for VBS August 2-6.  To register, click HERE and sign up today!
 
See you this Sunday in the GOD IS FOREVER place.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM JUNE 24, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

This Sunday in worship, we’ll wrap up our brief three part sermon series on the Three General Rules of the Church:  1) Do no harm, 2) Do Good, 3) Stay in Love with God.  

Like any long term relationship, it isn't enough for us to just express our love once and consider it enough.  We must continually work on our relationship with God!  What are some of the practices that you maintain to deepen your love of God?  Prayer?  Fasting?  Serving?  Reading the scriptures?  Almost anything. 

Don't forget that on Sunday, July 5th we'll celebrate virtual Communion together.  To prepare for this, get some bread and grape juice and we'll remember the story of the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his 12 Disciples.  Also, that day we'll be welcoming the Rev. Jamison Doehring to the pulpit.  Rev. Doehring is the Executive Pastor at St. Peter's UMC in Katy, TX and a dear friend of mine.  I look forward to hearing what he has to offer!

Due to the immense spike in COVID-19 infections, we are suspending in person indefinitely.  We WILL meet again in our sanctuary, but we just won't do so until it is safe to do so.  One of the key factors I'm looking for is a solid week to ten days of infection rates coming down, and that just isn't happening right now.

To underscore the importance of not gathering in large groups right now, Grace Weekday School was able to open June 8 and forced to shutter it's doors again on June 18 due to a positive COVID-19 test among our staff.  Since then, we've asked all our teachers to be tested and we've received another positive test among our teachers and even a positive test in one of our students.  We must be as diligent as possible to keep everyone as safe as possible!  Please pray for our staff and students and families as the Grace Weekday School Board figures out the best way forward for our little school.

Finally, please join our pre-worship social hour!  It begins at 10:30 AM and runs until 10:43 AM.  This social time is a Zoom call so if you've never participated in a Zoom call, let us know and we can help you get it all figured out.  The login information for Sunday's call is found below.  I hope you can join us!

See you this Sunday in the "WE LOVE GOD" place.

Yours in Christ,

Collin

Zoom- Time: 10:30am

Meeting ID : 714 4684 3356

Password: grace

 

 

UPDATE FROM JUNE 17, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
If you’ll remember with me, last week we started a new sermon series called, “Just Three Things.”  As I’ve mentioned before, this series is about the three general rules of the Church, 1) Do good, 2) Do no harm, and 3) Stay in love with God.  This week, we’ll examine the second rule, “Do no harm.”  Like “Do good,”  “Do no harm” is a little trickier than it may initially seem.  Do no harm to whom exactly?  Whose harm are we talking about?  And exactly who gets to decide what harm is?  For instance, a person asks a friend for a loan, and the friend says no.  The person asking for the loan may perceive the negative answer as harmful, when in fact the person who asked for the loan is trying to avoid harm.  Which person is causing harm?  Who gets to decide?
 
Also, I want to announce a new feature for our online worship service!  Beginning at 10:30 AM every Sunday, we’ve added a pre-worship time.  Similar to normal Sunday mornings where we catch up over a cup of coffee, we’ll host a Zoom session so that church members can log on and socialize with each other.  If the call gets a little too crowded, we’ll break it up into separate rooms so that we can have an easier time catching up with each other.  Then, at 10:43, we’ll come back together for a quick prayer and then end the call just before worship starts.  I hope that you can join us!  Below is the information need to get on the Zoom call.
 
The meeting ID is 864 2172 8220.  There is no password.  See you there!

 
Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86421728220


In Christ,
Collin
 
PS – If you need help with downloading Zoom, don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

UPDATE FROM JUNE 10, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we’re going to start a new sermon series called, “Just Three Things.”  In a similar way that John 3:16 encompasses the entire gospel message into a single verse, we can render down our theology as United Methodist Christians into just three things:  1)  Do good  2)  Do no harm  3) Stay in love with God.
 
This week, we will start with the first rule:  Do Good.  I want to invite you to watch this video with Bishop Reuben Job.  He does a great job of tying together the concept of doing good to our Wesleyan heritage.  Some of the questions we’ll be asking of the first rule are, “To whom should I do good?  What exactly is good?  Who gets to define what good?”  To do good seems like a relatively easy thing to do, but I think we’ll find out that as we unpack this concept, it isn’t quite as easy as we think.
 
Recently, I’ve emailed several of you to ask you to serve on the re-opening committee.  This committee will meet via Zoom to discuss strategies and policies that need to be developed to reopen our campus to in-person worship. It is no coincidence that this committee is meeting during this sermon series as we will use these three rules to guide our discussion as to when to reopen.  I’ll be honest with you – I believe the state opened businesses and places of worship too soon.  In Harris County, we STILL have not seen a single day of decreased infections.  Since early March, every single day there have been more infections than the day before.  Our fair county now has nearly 15,000 infected people.  We have to be intentional about when to re-open and thoughtful about how worship looks when we do reopen.  By reopening, are we doing good?  Further, are we doing no harm?  The reopening committee will examine these topics while we look at them during this sermon series.
 
I’m looking forward to "seeing" you this Sunday in the “we do good” place!
 
Yours in Christ,

Collin

 

 

 

UPDATE FROM JUNE 3, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
My goodness, what a week we’ve experienced.  From the protests spawned by the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis to the literal soaring heights of the Dragon 2 spacecraft being launched into space on a Falcon 9 rocket, we’ve certainly have witnessed history. 
 
I want to take a moment to talk about George Floyd and the protests, riots, and looting that has swept our nation and the world since his death on May 25th from a Christian perspective.  Any loss of life is tragic.  This is one reason that so many Christians are passivists and consider violent options like war the last option only.  But when there is a preventable death, such a George Floyd’s death, it is particularly tragic.  As my good friend, the Rev. Jeremy Wester, put it, “[We] follow a God who would rather give up his own life than commit a single act of violence (Matthew 26:52); a God whose power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); a God whose greatest act was born in humility (Phil 2:8) and requires us to confront our deepest failures rather than pretend we have it right already (John 3:14).”  Something is wrong when people live in fear, and it is our responsibility as Christians to shine light into the darkness we see and experience around us.  We are called to offer our hand in kindness to the least, last, lost, lonely, and downtrodden. 
 
If you’re angry about what’s been sweeping the world, stop and ask yourself why.  If you’re angry about the looting, violence, and murder that has occurred, I share your righteous anger.   These acts are evil and those participating in these heinous acts should be held responsible.  However, the protests that have been lawful, peaceful, and productive, such as the one which occurred on Tuesday in Houston, shouldn’t produce feelings of anger or fear, but rather feelings of empathy and grief.  A great injustice has been committed and we owe our brother and sisters who grieve that injustice the space to air their grief.  Further, we should support their desire to see change at the way officials treat those in their care whom they’ve sworn to protect.
 
This week in worship, we’ll observe Pentecost!  Pentecost is the birthday of the church and is found in Acts 2.  If you have a few minutes this week, read that chapter and be reminded how the Holy Spirit is a gift from God to us!
 
See you this week in the “Birthday” place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 27, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we will conclude our Unafraid sermon series by examining the strange relationship that existed between King Saul and David before he became King.  Saul was the first King of Israel, and he enjoyed a great deal of success during his reign.  He won battles, united tribes, and grew to be quite powerful.  Like all Kings in Israel’s history, he had a prophet through which God communicated God’s desires for the nation of Israel.  For Saul, it was the prophet Samuel.  Samuel would tell Saul of God’s wishes, and Saul would carry it out.  This relationship worked in everyone’s favor, but at one point Saul disobeyed God.  For that action, God through Samuel anointed David as Saul’s replacement.  Saul became extremely jealous of David going so far as to try and have him killed on a few different occasions.  On Sunday in worship, we’ll spend some time talking about how it feels when something lets us down.  Whether it is a person, a mentor, or an ideal, when we look up to someone and that person disappoints us, it can be very difficult – even heartbreaking.  We’ll talk about how, even in the midst of grief and disappointment, David kept his faith in God.
 
Looking forward, I want to let you know about a few things.  1) Beginning on June 14th, I’ll begin a new sermon series called, “Just three things.”  This will be a three week series during which we’ll examine the three general rules of our church, “Do Good, Do No Harm, and Stay in Love with God.”  I’m looking forward to this series as these rules will guide our decision when to open our church back up to hosting in person worship again.  2) On June 7th, we will participate in virtual Holy Communion.  In order to prepare for this, you’ll need to have bread and grape juice.  At the church, we use Kings Hawaiian bread with Welch’s grape juice but this isn’t special.  You can use any bread, and while I’d prefer grape juice to be used, you can substitute any liquid you’d like.  Remember, we believe that the bread and the cup are merely symbols of God’s love for us.  We believe that the bread and the cup are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace.  I’m hungry to participate in our sacraments and looking forward to celebrating it with you!  3) If you have a Facebook account, be sure to tune in to the church’s Facebook account every Wednesday at 11 AM.  I’ll be doing a devotional and I’d love for you to join us!
 
See you this week in worship!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 20, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we will continue the sermon series called, “Unafraid” by examining the fascinating tale of three Biblical characters with funny names – Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego.  These three leaned on their face in the face of a certain and painful death.  We’ll learn a bit about them and their context, and see what we can apply to our own lives and our own situations.  I’m really looking forward to it!
 
Now, a financial update:  As many of you know, Grace Weekday School provides substantial financial support to our church.  It is, in fact, one of the many reasons we decided to open a preschool.  However, Grace Weekday School has been closed and without tuition revenue since Friday, March 13 – a period of 66 days as of the writing of this column.  Since they’ve been without tuition revenue, the church has gone without the financial support we budgeted on for 2020.  The church is beginning to struggle financially and I’m hopeful that you can help us close the gap.  The Finance committee has been working hard to make sure that we are able to meet every obligation, but the longer we’re in this lockdown, the more difficult it becomes.  We have reserves, but they are fast dwindling.  Many of you give and give generously, however, if you are able please consider a second mile gift right now.  You can click here to make that gift.  Your help is greatly appreciated as we navigate these uncertain waters.
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this week in worship at the “the fiery furnace won’t stop us” place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin  
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 13, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we’ll continue our Unafraid sermon series by examining the plight of the Israelites.  The Israelites have quite a complicated history so rather than focusing on every battle or every miracle, we’ll examine them from a 30,000 foot view and talk about their wanderings in the desert in general terms.  Have you felt like you are in the desert?  Certain that you are going SOMEWHERE but totally uncertain when you’ll arrive or how long it will take to get there?  That’s how the Israelites must have felt.  In fact, we know that they were impatient and in the midst of their impatience and desire to know where they were headed, they sometimes did things that boggle the mind.  Perhaps we haven’t done anything unwise during this lockdown, but we can certainly understand the angst and the unrest that they felt during their journey through the desert.  We’ll address this and more this Sunday!
 
I want to make you aware of another format through which you can access worship.  Most of you are aware that we offer worship through Facebook Live and a Livestream through our website.  But did you know we also archive all of our worship services on YouTube?  Every Sunday at 11:30 AM, our entire worship experience is uploaded to YouTube.  That way, if you miss worship for one reason or another, you can watch it later.  Click here to see our YouTube channel, and catch up on all the great children’s sermons, music, and sermons that you may have missed!
 
I hope to see you in the “all this wandering will lead us somewhere” place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 6, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
I hope this finds you well and weathering this lockdown ok!  I know that some businesses are beginning to operate, but I want to encourage you to continue staying indoors for as long as it is feasible.  It is annoying, frustrating but I think still necessary.  Meanwhile, we’ll continue offering online worship opportunities.  Although there is a good chance we’ll be able to return to worship in June, the staff is currently exploring ways to continue offering online worship for those of you are who are high risk or won’t feel comfortable returning just yet.  Remember that we have decided to suspend “in person” worship through the month of May.
 
This week in worship we’ll continue our sermon series called, “Unafraid” by examining another Biblical character who faced adversity and uncertainty with bravery with the help of sound advice and her faith in God.  The subject of this Sunday’s sermon will be Esther.  I want to invite you to read through the book of Esther this week to refamiliarize yourself with her amazing story, and actions.
 
Finally, I want to say an early Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers, soon to be mothers and mother figures out there!  You are very much appreciated.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 29, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Don’t forget that we have decided to suspend in person worship through the month of May.  My hope is that we’ll be able to gather together again on the first Sunday of June.  Even though the governor has allowed churches to allow people to return on a limited basis while observing social distancing practices, our Bishop has recommended online only worship through May.  I’ll listen to his wise counsel during this time and as soon as it is safe, we’ll return to our normal worship habits.
 
This week during worship, we’ll continue in our series “Unafraid” by examining the long and complicated life of Joseph from the Old Testament.  His story is found in Genesis chapters 37-50 if you can refresh your memory.  I know you have time!  ☺  We’ll talk about how Joseph was faithful even in dark times, and we’ll focus in on how Joseph was patient during his tough times and the biggest thing he did was nothing!  He just sort of let things around him run its course and, though this is never specifically said in scripture, he seemed to have the belief that, “In the end, it’s all gonna be ok.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.”  Now obviously we have to be careful with how we define “ok” because already the virus has killed more than 55,000 Americans and infected over 1M.  Ok for us very well may include the death of a friend or loved one, but eventually, things will return to normal.  Even a new normal that might include new social practices and the absence of a person.  But this will run its course, and eventually we’ll find ourselves at our favorite restaurant telling stories of what we did during the great lockdown of 2020.
 
I hope to see you this week in the “normal will return one day” place.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 22, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week in worship, we will revisit a sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine several characters in the Bible who, like us, lived in uncertain times or faced uncertain futures.  We’ll learn about how they were able to use their faith in God as a salve for their fear and we’ll ask questions such as, “What can we learn from these characters?” and, “What in their life can I use in mine?”  From Esther who would become Queen, to King David & King Saul, to the brave trio of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, and finally the Apostle Paul, we’ll learn from the example they set on how to lean into our faith when we aren’t quite sure what’s next.
 
Don’t forget that we’ve suspended in-person worship services through at least the end of April, and it is my expectation that we’ll likely extend that through May. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and be as vigilant as possible to keep everyone as healthy as we can!  I miss you, but I hope you are enjoying the online worship services that our staff works so hard to put together each week.
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this Sunday in worship.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 15, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Well, happy Easter!  I know, I know, Easter was last Sunday.  But actually Easter is a whole season and we are right at the very beginning of that festive season.  I hope you got to join us for online worship as we sang, “Christ the Lord is Risen today!”  While Easter worship was very different than usual in that we couldn’t gather together, it was still a lot of fun!
 
But now what?  We’ve spent the last 6 weeks looking forward to and talking about one thing:  the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.  What do we do with all this energy we spent anticipating the glorious event?  Well, we’ll spend this Sunday talking about that precise thing.  What’s next?
 
Also, beginning Sunday, April 26th I’ll start a sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  I preached a series with this same title about three years ago, but given the unprecedented times we’re facing together I thought it might be a good idea to revisit this series to help us remember how our faith can help us face fear and uncertainty with strength. 
 
As a reminder, we have suspended regular worship services through the end of the month and it is my expectation that we won’t be able to meet for a few weeks beyond that.  Hopefully, this will soon be behind us.  Please stay healthy and safe!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 8, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
We continue to move forward during this unprecedented time!  A country song that was popular when I was younger states that, “The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.”  And so since we can’t together in-person to worship, we have shifted our worship service to an online format.  This week, we will have DVD’s and CD’s available so let us know if you would like us to mail you a few sermons, and we’d be glad to do so. 
 
A few matters of importance:
  1. Don’t forget to continue your giving!  With Grace Weekday School shut down for the time being, we are without one of our biggest sources of revenue for a few weeks.  If you are able to step up your giving for a short period of time, it would be most appreciated.  You can give in three ways:
    1. online at www.graceintheheights.org/give,
    2. you can text GraceUMCHeights to 77977
    3. OR drop a check in the mail!
  2. This week is Holy Week!  Normally, we would have a Holy Thursday service, a Good Friday service, a sunrise service, and our regular 10:45 AM worship.  However this year, due to the lockdown, we will only have a Good Friday service and Easter worship.  Good Friday will go live at 6:30 PM on Friday the 10th.   To view the live stream service, login to our website at https://graceintheheights.online.church OR visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GraceInTheHeights/Our Easter Sunday worship service will go live at both places on Sunday the 12th at 10:45 AM.
  3. As an update, I have decided to continue with online only worship services through the end of April.  If something drastically changes between now and then (and I pray that it does!), we can easily adapt to that.  But as of right now, plan to join us online through the end of April.
  4. Finally, looking forward to the near future in worship, on April 26th I will begin a new sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  You may remember that I preached a sermon series with this title a little over two years ago, but I thought that given the times we’re facing, it was worth revisiting.  How can we face the world unafraid?  We’ll spend several weeks talking through how our faith can be a salve for our fear.  I hope you can join us!
 
I hope to “see” you this Friday and then again on Easter Sunday as we celebrate the Risen Christ!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 1, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Goodness, this coronavirus is really putting a wrinkle in our worship plans!  However, we will continue to move forward in the best way we can.  This week was to be Palm Sunday which is one of my very favorite Sundays.  To see all the children joyously waving their palms brings my heart such delight!  But, our new normal dictates that we worship God together from a distance.  Thank goodness for the technology that makes all this possible.  There have been some mixed messages about when we’ll be able to gather again, but I don’t feel comfortable getting us together right now, and that will likely be the case for many weeks more.  As soon as it is feasible and safe, we will gather together.
 
A few updates:
 
  1. This week’s online worship service will be expanded to include music and a children’s sermon.  I’m excited to include these new items, and hope that you will be able to join us!  Our staff is working hard during this strange time to try and deliver God’s grace and mercy to you through technology.  Don’t forget to login to Facebook, or visit our website each Sunday at 10:45 to experience online worship.
  2. Staff transition - Many of you will remember that our Director of Music Ministries, Justin Langham, was supposed to be studying aboard through July.  To fill his extended absence, we brought Interim Director Mark Maretto onboard. Due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, Justin’s academic program was suspended and he has returned to the United States much earlier than anticipated.  While this is not the way we had hoped to welcome him back, we’re glad he is safe and he will assume his staff duties immediately.  Once we’re able to gather together once again, we’ll invite Mark back to worship so that we can properly thank him for his diligent work.
  3. Finally, I miss you all so much!  Please let me know how you’re doing and how you’re passing the time during the quarantine. 
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this Sunday!
 
In Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 25, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Phillipi, "I thank my God every time I remember you."  I've been thanking God a lot these days because I've been remembering and thinking about each of you a lot recently.  We certainly are living in unprecedented times!

A few things to remember about our church:

1) There is Children's Sunday School happening each Sunday at 10 AM via Zoom.  You can access that by clicking here.  The meeting ID is 371 842 769 and the password is grace.  Contact Mary Gossett for more information at mary@graceintheheights.org

2) Worship is hosted online each Sunday at 10:45 AM in two formats.  You can access it on Facebook by visiting our Facebook page here.  Or you can visit our website and click on the "Live Stream" button at the upper right-hand corner.  If you worship with us via our website, you can submit your attendance by clicking on "Connection Card" and if you worship via Facebook sign-in by simply commenting that you are present in the comments section.  If you missed worship last week, you can visit our YouTube page and catch up!

3) Please, PLEASE give!  Our church is doing pretty well financially right now but on top of our normal ministry expenses, we still have payroll obligations, insurance payments, utility payments and so much more.  The Finance Team is working to figure where we can cut expenses but the fact of the matter is that we are totally dependent on you and your generous gifts.  Click here to make a gift online, or feel free to drop a check into the mail.

Please let me know how each of you are doing.  I miss seeing you each week!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Collin

 

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 20, 2020 REGARDING LIVE STREAMING

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I wanted to share an update that I put on Facebook yesterday about our new online worship opportunity via our website.  Click here to watch.

Hope to "see" you in worship on Sunday!

In Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 18, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I've told my kids several times over the past few days that they should try and take mental pictures of this time because they will remember it always.  The fact of the matter is that this is an unprecedented time for all of us and we're making decisions as best we can.  Recently, the CDC recommended that all people avoid groups of 10 or more, and that certainly includes our worship service.  I've decided to suspend in-person worship through April 5th.  I will continue to host a live sermon on Sunday mornings that will be posted to our website and in various other places.  You can access our new live-streaming service by clicking here, or by visiting www.graceintheheights.org and clicking on "Live Stream" in the upper right-hand corner.

It is of vital importance that, as long as you are able, you continue your generous giving.  We still have financial obligations that must be met and while we have healthy reserves, we'd rather not use them right now.  As of now, the church office remains open so if you don't give online, please drop your check in the mail.  To make your gift online, click here or visit www.graceintheheights.org/give.

Finally, talking to your kids or grandkids about the outbreak is important and our Director of Family Ministries wrote a piece of how to do that.  You can find that here.

I have had several offers from members to help those who might need assistance with groceries, errands, and other everyday chores that are now made a little more difficult.  If you need assistance, please let me know and our church family will be glad to help!

Finally, we are aware that not everyone has an email address or a smartphone/computer. Help us figure out who they are!  If you know of a church member who hasn't been receiving our digital updates, please let me know so that we can put together some mail specifically for them.  Help us reach everyone!

Stay healthy and follow the guidelines that the CDC is recommending so that we can welcome back normal times!

In Christ,
Collin

 

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 13, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I wanted to take some time to update you on where our church stands on the COVID-19 outbreak.  I continue to be in prayer for all of us, and hope that you are staying healthy.  After consultation with church leadership, after attending a conference call with Houston Methodist Hospital, and because the safety of all our members is of paramount importance, worship for this Sunday, March 15th is cancelled.  It is only out of an abundance of caution that we make this decision, but with other area churches and schools suspending operations, it is the best choice right now.

A few matters of importance:

1) How can we help you?  If you are a person in the higher risk category and have avoided going out into public, let your church family help.  We can organize other members to run errands, pick up groceries, deliver food etc.  Our church is a family so let's pull together during this uncertain time!

2) As you know, our church depends on your giving and even though we won't be worshipping together this week, we will still have financial obligations to keep.  If you haven't already, please sign up for online giving immediately so that we can stay in good financial standing.  Visit www.graceintheheights.org/give to make sure your gift is received in a timely manner.

3) I'll be live-streaming a sermon at 10:45 AM on Sunday morning from our Facebook page.  Interested in watching?  Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GraceInTheHeights/, and log on around 10:45!  We're looking into other options to livestream, but Facebook is the easiest right now.

In Christ,
Collin

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Houston, TX 77008
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